Many years ago with the help of a [now] long-gone friend, I stumbled upon my first anime. In the past I had dabbled my way into well-known Studio Ghibli productions such as Ponyo, and The Secret World of Arrietty, and of course I witnessed a few Pokemon and Avatar episodes her and there. With VAP’s fabrication of the timeless tale Death Note however, I considered myself fully enthralled in the “dark eastern ideas” church-goers had so warned me about.
It took me quite a while to get up the nerve to try anime on my own, especially in light of Christian culture and how it has more often than not magnified the negatives of the media. Once I had been baited though, it was all hook, line, and sinker from there. Death Note took me on a journey through the unknown, allowing me to relish in equal opportunities of mystery and fascination. And I must say, despite my best judgement, I loved it. Demons and gore spoke to the adventurous soul in me, and believe it or not, the story gave me more than a few ideas concerning Christian tradition and spiritual warfare.
I recount all this today to reopen the case of Death Note and all its protestant symbolism. Particularly, I would like to focus on the Death Note itself. Now, for those of you who do not know, the premise is as follows. The tale focuses on the life of a boy who finds a journal dropped from the world of death gods, instantly crediting the show with a more-than-appropriate title. Upon finding the journal the young individual, Light Yagami, realizes the rare potential the notebook holds. Through experimentation, the boy finds the book can ultimately eliminate anyone in the owner’s path if so desired. All he or she has to do is simply write down the name of the person they wish to destroy and picture the face to which that name belongs, and presto chango that person is literally dead to the world!
“Learn to treasure your life because unfortunately, it can be taken away from you anytime.”~L Lawliet
Though the show is certainly no less than morbid, I found myself connecting to it ways that perhaps only other Christian anibloggers can understand. Now before you start dialing 911 and accusing me of criminal offense, hear me out for a second, will you? I too have a journal, but instead of writing the names of people the world wishes dead, I write the names of people I wish would be put to death in the flesh. As a believer, this means that I envision the sin in the lives of others to dissipate and likewise be replaced with a newfound sense of renewal and purpose in Christ Jesus, my Lord. Romans 8:13 puts it like this, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
“I can’t carry on knowing these people will die. That’s just immoral.” ~Yagami Light
Just like Light and his Death Note, I proceed in a similar manner because I feel as if I hold a certain duty to the world. While Yagami did so in hope to fulfill his own selfish desires and definition of morality, I aim to help others commit death to the flesh because the God I serve is a God of both justice and of love. More than anything, my Savior and I want to see others put away their worldly desires and find new life in Him. Because of this selfless plea, and my strong inclination to bring others to Jesus, I have named my journal a Prayer Note, as every name that I write down will be lifted up in resurrection to the One True King. Though I may not see a response to my Note in 40 seconds (as it is with the animation), my heart rejoices because I know my God has read it in even less.
Now it is your turn! How has the symbolism in Death Note influenced your Christian walk and ministry? Do you have a Prayer Note of sorts? What is the most memorable instance of death to the flesh that you have seen in your own life? I want to hear from you!
Stick around for my next post where I tell you where to get materials for your own Prayer Note and how to construct one yourself!